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SEAC

CONSULTATION DOCUMENT

This document aims to outline a way forward for the student environmental movement. It needs to be discussed widely, altered and finally if agreed, acted on. At this stage (until 31st May) we are looking for opinions and not approval. The entire process, including agreement if possible, then needs to be completed by WEDNESDAY 17th JUNE to enable activity to be co-ordinated for the next academic year and so that the situation is clear for people attending the Third World First (TWF) Summer School at Sheffield University on 20-21 June.

History

A small meeting last summer examined the future of the student environmental movement and most participants concluded that a single organisation would be better than Students for Environmental Action (SEA) and Green Students Network (GSN). However, at the large joint gathering in Reading there was no agreement on further steps beyond joint gatherings. This was mainly because of worries from GSN-oriented students about maintaining a non-hierarchical and decentralised organisation. For the remainder of the year SEA concentrated on the Environment Motion at NUS conference and GSN on regional gatherings. Because of the lack of progress and drift on this issue a meeting was arranged for after the Cambridge RTS to discuss the future of GSN - this is the result.

Student Environmental Awareness Coalition (SEAC)
A Grassroots Support Organisation

Why Change?

Needs

This list provides a starting point of the needs of college/university groups, plus a smaller number of general needs of any national organisation. They can be further expanded & added to and of course also need prioritising year-by year.
TRAINING(Skills, Issues, Student Unions, Local, National, Gatherings, Summer School)
RECRUITMENT(New groups, Individuals, Start-ups)
Information(Dissemination, Campaigns, Events, Newsletter, Magazine + SchNews, EF!AU, CW)
Networking(Make the NetWORK, Regional, National, Database)
Materials(Briefings, Posters, Leaflets, Campaigns)
Motivation(Gatherings, Support, Self-help)
Fundraising(Worker, Mailouts, Expenses, Affiliations, Grants)
Campaigns(Student-specific, Timely, Joint with NGOs, Corporate Watch (CW) etc.)
Education(Issues, Politics, Radicalising)
Continuity / Handover(Organisation, Groups, Contact point, Archives)

Culture & Values

We feel that the culture and values of the organisation are of central importance. Structures and systems change as organisations grow and develop. It is the culture and ethos that survives and in our case can guide the organisation and help the movement to prosper.

The organisation should be a Grassroots Support Organisation. It should provide information, education, support, advice and training to college based groups. Key ingredients are:
Co-operation(Friendly, ‘Safe’ environment, Respect)
Proactive(New groups, NGO links, Co-ordination)
Quality(Campaigns, Materials, Gatherings, People, Learning Organisation)
Networking(Regional, Formal, Informal, Big & Small group Twinning etc)
Grassroots(Support, Encouragement, Empowerment, Responsiveness, DIY ethic)
Non-hierarchical(Strong Networks, Openness, No Hidden Agendas, No Powerful ‘core’ or elite)
Consensus where possible(Constructive, Friendly, No Factions)
Non-centralised(with a Resource Centre/Office a strong awareness and effort is needed)
Autonomy for groups(No Control, Encourage links with local FoE, A21, EF! etc)

Modus Operandi

Take the best from GSN & SEA. The former Lloyds and Midland Boycott (LAMB) campaign could provide a model of a successful student-run organisation with a permanent office. SEAC would encourage activists to be active within Student Unions & NUS and stand for election to SUs and NUS, but would not be a NUS platform or faction.

The following structure is proposed for at least the next year. It will need further work and depend on the situation and people involved. A co-ordinating committee (travel expenses paid if possible) should be formed with one representative elected from each NUS region (11), plus 3 additional members. Half of this committee would take on specific & active roles in the running of SEAC. Handover during Summer Term. Equal representation of genders actively encouraged. The proposed full-time worker would work with and for this committee and produce the newsletter. A 'proper' structure and management support would also be needed for the worker. There should also be :

Plan / Priorities

  • Form preliminary co-ordinating group and produce a plan for the forthcoming year.
  • Organise and strongly promote the first Gathering.
  • Pursue fundraising for a full-time worker and revise plan and structure according to likely outcome.
  • Produce a frequent, reliable & regular newsletter.

    The Name

    This often has the potential to be annoying and time-consuming in any potential merger. There is agreement amongst many people within SEA that their name can change. We do not know the views of many GSNers. To signify a totally new organisation it would be best not to use either of the old names.
    Student Environmental Awareness Coalition (SEAC) is the current working name ; it has a good acronym - "seek"

    Further Reading

    The GSN archive has been mined for a set of papers that give details of national student environmental groups from the 70s onwards including the Student Ecology Movement, Network of Green Students, Green Student Network, Union of Green Students, Green Party Students and Students for Environmental Action. It is informative and well worth a look. Copies available from Green Action!, Leeds (see below) or cen7dcc@leeds.ac.uk

    Key Dates & Times for Discussion

    16-17 MayStudent activity around G8 Summit, Birmingham. Meet at TWF venue & chain.
    17 JuneNUS Environment Day (at lunchtime, then from 6pm planning for next year), Sheffield SU

    Responses

    Please make your feelings, comments, suggestions, criticism and constructive criticism known BY 31st MAY. Join the GSN email list for detailed discussion (send an email to majordomo@lists.ed.ac.uk [majordomo@lists.ed.ac.uk] with 'subscribe gsn' as the message), go to one of the events detailed above or write to Green Action! PO Box 157, Leeds LS1 1UH. The new document and the comments will then be sent to everyone on the GSN & SEA mailing lists for possible agreement.
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